Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Sweetest Mango

There's been an great response to the mango blogathon – thanks for participating! The blogathon closed yesterday and on Thursday, we will be putting up a post rounding up responses we've got. On Friday, we will announce the selected participants who will receive copies of the book, The Sweetest Mango, written by Malavika Shetty and illustrated by Ajanta Guhathakurta.

Today, we have a very special post from writer Malavika Shetty on her mango memories:

The mango, for me, epitomizes the tastes, textures, smells, and colours of childhood summers. It reminds me of hot afternoons sitting under the cool shade of mango trees sucking on the sweet, juicy mangoes that I had just plucked off the trees in my village in Karnataka. It reminds me of the summer holidays and of eating mangoes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between because there was no school to go to the next morning and only the rhythm of the long summer days to follow. The fruit brings back to me memories of hot, sticky days when the colour of mango juice was a semi-permanent stain around my mouth. It reminds me of the look on my grandmother’s face when I came home each day from my mango adventures with my clothes streaked with mango juice.

The fruit is also intertwined with my summers in Bombay – the last few days of school, when the excitement of the coming holidays was in the air, and the aam papad wallah did brisk business just outside the school walls. The few saved-up coins I used to buy the tiny layered aam papad rectangles was money well spent as I swung on the gate of my apartment building with my friends after school sharing and savouring the sweet-tangy concoction.

The fruit reminds me of the colours and crowds at the weddings in city, during the wedding season, where mango leaves festooned the wedding halls and aamras was the eagerly-awaited delicacy at the end of a heavy meal. I remember eating spoonful after spoonful of the thick, sweet mango pulp flavoured with cardamom, until I could eat no more.

Even now, living in a different place, where mangoes are rare and the ones that I find just do not taste the same, I find myself trying to recreate the smells and tastes of childhood summers. I make mango shakes with vanilla ice cream, I eat pizzas with mango toppings, I enjoy mango lassis made out of canned mango pulp, and I book my tickets to go as soon as I can to where the mangoes of my childhood still hang invitingly from lush trees.

Malavika Shetty


Comments? Feedback? Opinions?